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September 20, 2011

Easy as Apple Pie

2:39 pm | 1 Comment » |

We don’t drink a lot of juice at my house, but I couldn’t resist the amazing apple cider from Suprima Farms at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market this week. As long as we were having a treat, I decided to go whole hog. And ended up with this:

Apple Pie Gelato with Caramel Ribbon

Ingredients

2 ½ cups apple cider

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cinnamon sticks

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup milk

6 egg yolks

½ cup white sugar

½ cup caramel sauce (store bought or homemade—it’s easy! Try this recipe).

Directions

Heat apple cider in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce the apple cider to 3/4 -1 cup, stirring frequently. Remove from heat,add vanilla, stir, and set aside.

Place the cinnamon sticks in a closed plastic bag and smash to shards with a hammer. Combine cinnamon shards with heavy cream a in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium low heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for ten minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover, and set aside to steep for one hour. After an hour, strain shards out of the cream. Return strained cream to a clean pan. Whisk in yolks and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan, until custard thickens, about ten minutes.

Remove custard from heat and whisk to combine with milk and reduced apple cider. Refrigerate mixture overnight, then process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Just before removing from machine, pour caramel sauce into the machine in a slow stream to form a ribbon. Remove to a container and freeze until hard, 2-3 hours.

This one passes the self-control test—as in, you won’t have any, so proceed with caution. Enjoy!



1 Comment »

June 23, 2011

Rhubarbia

2:49 am | Comments Off |

It’s STILL not strawberry time, but take heart! There’s lots to do wih what we have–and time is running short, so dive in. Here are a few easy and ingenious recipes to maximize your rhubarb pleasure for the next couple weeks until the berries pop.

 

Rhubarb Extract

Use this potent liquid as an alternative to lemon juice in many recipes, or to make a delightful rhubarbade with the addition of sugar and either flat or sparkling water.

Rhubarb, although very acidic, isn’t quite as acidic as lemon juice, so keep that in mind when making substitutions. Most lemon juice has a pH of around 2.1. I measured the acidity of my rhubarb extract at 2.9 (yes, I’m one of those geeks who keeps a pH meter lying around). That’s not quite as close as it sounds because pH is measured logarithmically, like earthquakes. It is, nonetheless, acidic enough to do achieve the desired effect in many recipes. If you use lemon juice to add acidity for canning purposes, be aware that you want the overall acidity to be 4.3 or under, so rhubarb extract can also be effectively used for that purpose.

Ingredients

4 cups chopped rhubarb

Directions

Cook rhubarb over medium low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until fibres have completely broken down into the liquid. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes, then strain through a colander lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze cheesecloth firmly to extract all liquid. Transfer rhubarb to ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, seal in a freezer bag until ready for use.

 

Caramelized Rhubarb Jam

Based on the recipe on Jess Thomson’s blog, Hogwash, this jam is simple, a enticingly caramelish alternative to the standard compote, and a great way to get jamming early in the season.

Ingredients

Directions

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven 375˚F. Combine all ingredients in a large, shallow baking pan.  Roast rhubarb, stirring only once, for 3-4 hours or until stalk fibres are broken down and surface has a brown, caramelized appearance. If canning with sterilized equipment, can immediately; otherwise, set aside for half an hour to cool, then transfer to containers and refrigerate or freeze until use.

 

Rhubarb Gin

One of my favourite uses, this one is too simple to write down in recipe form: just chop up a cup or so of rhubarb and pop the pieces in a bottle of your favourite gin. Seal, refrigerate, and leave for 5-7 days. Strain out the rhubarb pieces and return the gin to a clean bottle. Enjoy with tonic water on a warm summer evening.



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May 30, 2011

Rhubarb All(spice) Stars

4:46 pm | 1 Comment » |

Sorry I’ve been MIA recently, folks—I’ve been busy working on my book. That’s right, my book! It’s called A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes for the Whole Year. You can take a look the write up on the Nimbus website here (and you can buy it in bookstores or from Ellora in October.)

Anyway, on to pie. Baking individual-sized pies in short, glass jars is all the rage now–try it and you’ll see why. Not only are they cute, but they’re easy to preserve and give as gifts. I used a combination of 250 mL and 500 mL jars for these seasonal rhubarb pies. After you bake them you can put a canning jar lid on top for convenient storage in the refrigerator. Supposedly you can even freeze them with the lids on before baking then bake from frozen any time of the year, although I haven’t tried that yet.

 I’m pleased to say my own rhubarb is growing like gangbusters (glad SOMEONE likes all this cool, drippy weather) but I’ve made so much compote recently that I needed to buy rhubarb from Broadfork Farm for this recipe. It was just as fresh and intensely flavoured as my own–not my usual experience buying rhubarb, even at the farmers’ market. I’m pretty dang enthusiastic about Broadfork–if you’re at the Lunenburg or Hubbards market, stop by and say hello to Shannon and Byron and check out fabulous offerings. I bought these radishes from them last week, for instance:

Really, who can resist?  

Rhubarb All (spice) Stars

Ingredients

1 batch pie crust (any standard pie crust will do; I confess to buying  buying premade pie dough because I am a cheater cheater cheater, but it’s really not all that hard to make your own; try this recipe  for solid results.)

3 cups (750 mL) chopped rhubarb

1egg

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon (7.5 mL) ground allspice

1 cup (250 mL) sour cream

1/3 cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 450˚F (230˚C).

Make (or unbox) your pie crust and roll it out. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out several shapes for topping the pie later (this step isn’t necessary, but it only takes a minute and makes for a pie you’ll want to show off). Set cut shapes aside–I just cut them on a cutting board then put the cutting board in the refrigerator while I complete the innards of the pie.

Press pie dough evenly down into your jars (you don’t need to butter them first, just make sure they’re clean and dry). Fill jars up to the rim.
Disribute sliced rhubarb between jars. They should be filled about 2/3 of the way up.

Mix up all remaining ingredients with a whisk or a fork until fully integrated to create custard.

Pour custard over rhubarb–mixture should come to just below the rim of the pie.

Pull out your cut dough shapes and place them gently on top of the custard mixture. Place pies on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat down to 350°F (180°C); bake until  filling is slightly jiggly and topping is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes, depending on jar size. Let cool completely on rack before eating.



1 Comment »

March 23, 2011

Ravage Your Cabbage

9:20 pm | 1 Comment » |

I have to admit, I’ve never been a big cabbage person. Until now.

A lot of it has to do with the traditional preparations for cabbage, rather than the vegetable itself. Sauerkraut and the other spice-and-vinegar type preparations that are so common in our area don’t really do it for me. I freely admit that I’m no fan of German food.

The deep, alluring shade of the purple cabbage that Maple Grove Farm sells at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market beckoned me over last week, however, and I decided I’d just have to find something sexy to do with it. (And why on earth do they call it red cabbage, after all? It’s NOT RED.) Here’s what I came up with:

Asian Sauteed Cabbage O’ Wonder

Ingredients:

1/2 purple cabbage, finely sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use walnut oil, a special treat; but peanut oil, butter, or just about any other cooking oil should work just fine)
1/4 cup peeled minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried chile peppers, minced (also available from Maple Grove Farm–I like my food hella-spicy, so you may wish to use just one pepper or even a half)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. If you have a lid that fits, you can lid the pan and reduce heat to medium–it’ll cook a little quicker and retain more moisture this way. Serve hot or cold. I like mine even better the next day!

Enjoy the heck out of this recipe. I know I did.

And finally, a special invitation to all my faithful readers: Do you have a local fruit or vegetable lying around that you aren’t sure what to do with? Drop me a line and I’ll write a blog post JUST for you!



1 Comment »

March 14, 2011

Bring it, Spring

5:15 am | Comments Off |

Ah, March. The ground is transitioning from thoroughly slushy to frigidly boggy, the markets offers the same old same old of the past five months, and the very air is infused with blech.

Almost. Almost. For even as it seems to envelope us, the blechness is wearing dangerously thin. I invite you (or challenge you, or dare you–whatever gets you off your duff) to pull on some wellies and go tromp around in the muck. I just about guarantee you’ll find something of interest, and perhaps even something that verges on the edible; a tender green shoot of garlic, a newborn kale leaf, an embarassingly pink nubbin of rhubarb. Whatever it is, there will be a bit more tomorrow.

So start your seeds, plan your preservation tactics for the summer, and dream of spring. Extend your roots. Raise your shoots. It’ll all be here before you know it.



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January 27, 2011

Pork Loin in Faux Dough

6:07 am | Comments Off |



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December 31, 2010

Food Medicine: Playing Chicken With Your Cold

8:52 pm | 2 Comments » |

It’s that time of year… to sniffle, sneeze, wipe and wheeze. If you’re fighting the gunk of the week (like everyone at my house!) you’ll love this simple, delicious, and phlegm-clearing chicken soup.

First, you’ll need to roast a chicken. This part is easy. I love the chickens I get from Kevin Veinotte at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market, but if you can’t get one from him try the organic chicken from the health food store or, in a pinch, the natural chicken from the supermarket (conventional chicken does not have as high a nutrition or medicinal value, so this is not the time to pinch pennies).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, rinse your chicken off, and toss some garlic cloves, chopped onion, and your favourite herbs in the body cavity. Rub the outside with a little extra virgin olive oil and salt, and roast for 2-3 hours or until the meat in the thickest part of the bird is thoroughly cooked. I sometimes underroast my chicken, eat the outside meat, then re-cook any meat that is still pink, but I wouldn’t recommend that method to an inexperienced cook or to be done with a grocery store chicken.

After the bird has cooled down, strip the meat off the carcass and put everything that isn’t edible (bones, skin, etc) into a stock pot or crock pot. Add chopped onion, as much garlic as you can spare, a healthy pinch of salt, and some pieces of carrot and celery if you have them. Add water until everything is just barely covered, then add a quarter cup of vinegar. I like Boates brand apple cider vinegar (local and organic), but generic white vinegar will do the trick–the point of this step is to make an acidic environment in the pot, which will then leach calcium and other minerals from the bones and infuse them into the broth.

Simmer the mixture for 6-8 hours. Check every 1/2 hour to hour and skim off any foam that rises to the top. At the end of the simmering time remove the bones and big chunks, then strain the broth through cheesecloth (I get mine at the dollar store). Chill in the fridge for a few hours, strain off the fat that rises to the top, and you’ve got your stock!

At this point, making chicken soup is dead easy. Simply take your homemade stock, add cooked rice or noodles as your prefer, some shredded chicken, minced garlic, and any other vegetables you like. I usually toss in some chopped carrots and whatever else I have lying around and simmer them in the stock over medium heat for about 20 minutes to cook them through. Fresh parsley makes a great addition if you have it, and we also love to add a shot of sinus-blasting hot sauce.

Not only will this soup make you feel better, it will actually taste like love. If you have lots of leftovers, toss them in the freezer for your next cold! (Or bring them to my house. I never say no to homemade soup.)



2 Comments »

December 22, 2010

Gingerbread

8:16 pm | Comments Off |

Here’s that gingerbread recipe I promised you–use it for the gingerbread trifle below, or for an old-fashioned taste of the holidays any time!

Ingredients
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
3 tablespoons minced candied ginger

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9 inch square pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and add molasses. Blend thoroughly.
In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving.



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December 17, 2010

Gingerbread Trifle

6:00 am | Comments Off |

This recipe is a little bit local and a whole lot scrumptious for the holidays! Not only does it play on traditional flavours, but it embodies the best of Christmas breads and pies in one dish.

I recommend that you use local free-range eggs if you can. I love the eggs I buy from Faye LaBelle of Silverlane Farm. If you were crafty enough to put up some cooked pumpkin this fall now is the time to use it; if not, canned will work just fine.

Gingerbread Trifle

Ingredients
3 cups coffee cream (18% milkfat)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups pumpkin purée
4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
1/2 cup gingersnap crumbs
1 batch fresh gingerbread, thinly sliced (make your favorite, or try the recipe in my next post!)
1/4 cup Ironworks apple brandy (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and butter a medium baking dish. Put two inches of water into a larger baking dish and set the butter dish inside it.

Heat the 18% cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat just to the boiling point, then immediately remove from heat.

Beat the eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt together until throughly blended. Add the heated 18% cream and the pumpkin purée and mix until smooth. Pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife plunged in the middle comes out clean. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, combine the heavy cream and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whip to soft peaks. Add minced crystallized ginger and gently fold until evenly combined.

In a clear bowl, layer the gingerbread, pumpkin custard, and ginger cream in as many layers as you wish–the more thinly sliced the gingerbread, the more layers you can make.

Cover the top layer of whipped cream with gingersnap crumbs. Drizzle apple brandy over gingersnaps if desired. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Enjoy!



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October 19, 2010

Local Spice

7:37 pm | Comments Off |

Nova Scotia gets a bad rap for having bland food. Come into my garden, however, and you’ll see that nothing could be further from the truth.

Last week I decided to make some chile sauce from the last harvest of peppers (to be fair, I bought most of these from Liz Coakley of Windhorse Farms). I took as many hot peppers as I could get, chopped them roughly (using protective gear, as pictured, for a precaution), added about half as much peeled and quartered garlic (you can add more or less to taste) and combined them in a saucepan. Then I added white vinegar about 2/3 of the way to the top of the pan, covered, brought to a simmer over medium-low heat, and simmered for twenty minutes. Finally, I pureéd the mixture with my beloved stick blender, and ta da! Chile sauce!

These 125 ml jars are perfect for storage. I didn’t bother sterilizing my jars so I’m storing them in the fridge, but if you followed regular canning procedure you could certainly keep this sauce in the cupboard for up to a year. I’m holding a few back for Christmas gifts–for those who have been particularly naughty AND nice!



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